How to Create a Mood Board for a Photography Project

Mar 23, 2021 | Food Photography

A key part of my creative process on any shoot is making a mood board. It can be hard to communicate conceptual ideas to clients, so using a mood board is a great way to give a visual reality to your ideas that makes them easier to communicate to your client. Here are a few reasons why mood boards are so helpful:

  1. They allow you to get on the same page as your client in terms of brand aesthetic. This is a way to communicate that you understand the colors, lighting, and overall personality that they want to communicate.
  2. Mood boards help you to begin planning materials and props that you’ll want for your shoot. I once made a moodboard for a Mexican restaurant that inspired me to hunt down some palm leaves to bring to the shoot, which the client loved.
  3. They give you a reference point to look back at while you’re shooting to make sure that you’re in line with the brand aesthetic.

A word of caution: It’s important to explain to the client that the mood board is a general idea, and not an exact look at what the images will be like. I like to include some more abstract visuals in my mood boards to help communicate this. Most clients have a marketing background and will understand the purpose of the mood board, but I always make sure to make note of it.

It’s also important to note that sometimes a mood board will be provided by the client, depending on the structure of their business and the role you play in the project.

The Steps in Making a Mood Board

Mood boards are one of my favorite parts of the project because they are a great chance to explore new creative ideas. Here are the steps I take each time I make a board for a project.

  1. Explore all client materials and observe colors and themes. The client website and social media accounts are a great place to start for understanding their current aesthetic.
  2. Collect images that are relevant to the brand and the project. I like to find a mix of textures and more abstract images, along with more specific images to tie into the example. For a restaurant client I’ll also find samples of lifestyle and interior shots to help the mood board tell a full story. Pinterest, magazines, or even pictures from your own library can be great sources for images.
  3. Make notes about your images and why you’re including them. These are helpful to refer back to when presenting the board to the client.
  4. Arrange everything on a board for presentation. I often use Illustrator for this, but you can also use a tool such as Invision, or make a slide deck.
  5. Add your logo! This is your intellectual property and it’s important that your name and branding appear on it.

Storing Mood Boards

I keep all of my client mood boards labeled and stored on my hard drive. You may find them helpful to refer back to on future client projects!


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Hey! I’m Moriah– a commercial and editorial food photographer and creative entrepreneur who is perpetually drinking coffee and covered in dog hair. I write this blog from New York City where I run my creative agency, The B Edit. I write this blog in the hopes that you can one day have your creative dream job, too!   

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